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Record-breaking effort highlights Day Two

Young Arroyo Grande swimmer sets new mark in 50-meter breaststroke

Posted: July 31, 2008 10:00 p.m.
Updated: October 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Breaking a record that was set before he was born for the second time in two weeks, Zachary Stevens established a new benchmark in the 50-meter breaststroke on Thursday.

Knifing through the water in 32.23 seconds in the Southern California Summer Junior Olympic
Championships at Santa Clarita Aquatic Center, Stevens broke his own record he set a week prior at a meet in Bakersfield.

In Thursday morning's preliminary heat, the 12-year-old native of Arroyo Grande broke his own record.

In the evening finals heat, Stevens, who competes for the Puma Aquatic Center in San Luis Obispo, nearly broke the record a third time, dominating in a winning time of 32.69 seconds. The second-place finisher came in at 34.20 seconds.

The previous mark was set in 1989 by David Katz of SoCal Aquatics from Tustin.

"I feel great," Stevens said. "I'm pretty happy, I feel really great. I felt like I swam well."

The fact that Stevens is 5-feet-8, a good three inches taller than his next competitor and the same height as several high school boys swimmers, did not hurt his chances.

The Canyons Aquatics Club, which hosted the event, continued to perform well in their home pool,
including gold-medal winners Mitch Johnson and Liza Kuznetsova.

Johnson provided an added kick to winning the 13-14-year-old 400-meter individual medley race (5:15.77).

Johnson won one of the more challenging events, in which swimmers must perform in all four strokes - freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly - for a fairly long distance.

Johnson will compete in six individual events and five relay events.

"I just tried as hard as I could," said Johnson, a 14-year-old who will be a freshman at Hart this fall. "I was seeded second, so I just wanted to beat the kid ahead of me."

The 10-year-old Kuznetsova won the 9-10 200 freestyle (2:30.46). Asia Antoniuk, a 12-year-old eighth-grader at Placerita Junior High, won the silver medal in the 200 free (2:16.10). Stephen Haw also won a silver in the 200 free (2:03.32).

Maggie Hanson came in a close third in the 13-14 400 I.M. (5:16.27), just behind a swimmer that passed her in the final 10 meters.

Michelle Duraj earned a bronze medal (1:19.08), as did Matthew Johnson in the 200 free (2:14.95).

The Junior Olympics will continue today beginning at 9 a.m. today for preliminary heats, then at 5 p.m. for final heats. Saturday will have the same schedule, then Sunday's relay events begin at 9 a.m. and will run through 2 p.m., all at the Aquatic Center.

For the first time, Canyons Aquatic Club is putting up a Webcast of every day's meets at At least 100 people per day from around the United States have been watching the events.


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